Dying Coral Reefs to be Frozen, Preserved for the Future


Photo via GA Tech

This may be the bleakest forecast yet for coral reefs--researchers just concluded that the prospects for the world's coral reefs' survival are so slim that a plan must be launched to freeze samples in liquid nitrogen and preserve them for future generations. The world's coral is dying out, due largely to rising temperatures in ocean waters. Too-warm temps cause mass bleaching in coral, which leads to widespread mortality in the reefs. And as the oceans continue to grow hotter, the coral will die at faster and faster rates.

So a meeting of researchers was held in Denmark to determine what can be done about the declining coral. The scientists' solution? Freeze it up, and store it away. They determined that there's simply no way that the coral can survive--even if the world acted to put the toughest regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change was halted in 50 years, the oceans would still simply be too warm.

For example, one of the world's most vital coral reefs, the Coral Triangle in Southeast Asia, will likely be destroyed by the end of the century, the researchers found. And so . . .

Freezing Coral Reefs
It looks like we'll be freezing our coral reefs for preservation, like so many supervillains and sci-fi space travelers. According to the BBC, at the meeting,

politicians and scientists acknowledged that global emissions of carbon dioxide are rising so fast that we are losing the fight to save coral and the world must develop an alternative plan. Freezing samples for the future may be a necessary option.
And while it's far from ideal, desperate times call for desperate measures when it comes to the coral:
''Well it's the last ditch effort to save biodiversity from the reefs which are extremely diverse systems," said Simon Harding from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) . . . "That is something that needs to be looked at in detail, but we can definitely store the species and save them in that way."
The scientists believed that the coral samples could be effectively frozen in liquid nitrogen, where they would remain preserved until global temperatures could be stabilized. Imagine that--our great grandchildren may only be able to see coral frozen away in a lab or museum.

More on Coral Reefs
Coral Reefs in Danger? Climate Champ to the Rescue
Underwater Museum to Protect Coral Reefs in Mexico

Tags: Conservation | Coral Reefs | Global Climate Change

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